Book Review: Persepolis

The book club i recently joined had an overwhelming vote for Persepolis in our latest vote. As we all know, there has been a tremendous amount of exposure for this book over the last 10 years, and i imagine even more so now with the transpiring events in Syria, our recent presidential election rhetoric and the activity in the Middle East in general, so i have to say that i was definitely looking forward to and excited about the new doors of thought and exposure that were going to opened in reading this book.

Also, Several years ago I watched the short film, it was given to me as a present from one of my closest sister-friends (I actually watched it on a DVD (woah!) !) and i remember finding the film and story incredibly touching and insightful, needless to say, again, the excitement lingered.

So not only was i excited from the energy surrounding the book but also at the promise of insight from the woman perspective, wrestling with religious cultural identity, personal identity and different life experiences. The aspect of ‘worn torn’ Iran wasnt something that i was particularly drawn to, but i was interested to learn about the culture in general and to have insight to the life of a Middle Eastern family.

All in all – my mind, body, and spirit were open to the book and all that it was going to bring to me.

Unfortunately, it greatly let me down. I now have an tainted perspective of Marjane Satrapi.

I felt the story as whole painted her as a selfish, entitled, inconsiderate girl & young woman who lacked empathy & sympathy for others, as well as, accountability and personal responsibility. i was appalled and saddened at her indifference to her family and friends and just others in general shown thru her constant outbursts (veiled as a defiant strong individual showmanship of expressing the opinion of the whole to take a stand against dictatorship & tyranny) that could have resulted (and did in one story of hers) in disability, destitution, or death.

Dont get me wrong, I am not against speaking out against social injustices but i do feel there is a time and place and with consequence no matter the time or place, but the upmost importance is realizing and preparing for those consequences so that you are not intentionally with no regard bringing others around you into direct or potentially direct harm.

I also was really surprised at all the freedoms and opportunities she had during this horrible time for her country where hundreds of thousands were being killed, what seemed like on a daily basis … through the bombings, raids, destruction, poverty, death, looting, and cultural, individual, & societal restrictions and requirements, somehow she and her family were still able to shop for food, shoes, clothes, posters, cassette tapes, & makeup, take vacations, have and go to parties, have alcohol, have a car (the Cadillac or otherwise), have a very expensive wedding, live and study abroad (ive never been ‘abroad’ for anything but a paid work trip), smoke cigarettes (not cheap during a war), have opportunity for work,  go thru a divorce successfully – i mean, who is this family and what kind of ties did they have?

Im almost jealous that her family seemed to have an endless stream of disposable income that rescued her anytime she wanted (not needed).

Im sure life in Iran was hard, especially as a young girl, where at a pivotal time to start finding and seeing who you are, was made to wear veils and cloaks thereby suppressing the ability to really understand femininity and womanhood but …

I didnt read or learn one lesson of personal self-improvement, i didnt read or learn one lesson on understanding, accepting, and coping-with cultural identity differences, i just didnt read or learn one lesson …

Honestly, i dont feel Marji’s self experience (the ‘identity’ crisis of the veil’)  or rock-bottoms were any harder then that of woman and men coming out of Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism or any other religion that oppresses the individual for the sake of societal norms and control – and especially not harder then the people living in the worlds poverty, low and low-middle class income levels.

I did appreciate the creative aspect of her writing style, i enjoyed how she tied her experiences of ‘i just put my foot in my mouth’ and ‘i have no idea what im talking about or what i thought i knew’ to the drawings of the bewildered facial expression of the little/young girl.

Looking back, im not sure why i felt like i drew insight from the film maybe it was just the film itself, im sort of leaning toward watching it again to see if i receive the same perspective … it was 10 years ago though and we all know how our mind and needs change from day to day, month to month, year to year…

Let me know your thoughts, i feel like i missed something but i really dont know what …

~~bci~~

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